Duane Franklin cares a lot about how well people sleep. In fact, he’s dedicated his entire career to finding the materials that maximize comfort and health.
“When you’re not sleeping well, it’s terrible — it impacts every other element of your life,” says Franklin. “And, yes, there are a lot of things that can contribute to that, but a big one is what you choose to sleep on.”
Franklin is the managing partner and lead mattress designer at Fawcett Furniture and Mattress — Vancouver Island’s only mattress manufacturer, and one that has made its business custom-creating sleep environments by exclusively using sustainable, earth-friendly materials.
While eco-minded consumables have gained in popularity, the mattress industry has barely made a crease in the green product movement. Yet, as Franklin will remind you, most people spend a third of their lives on these mattresses. What you choose matters.
Tradition and Integrity
“My first memory of a mattress, as a kid, was flipping it over because we used to use both sides,” says Franklin, who began making mattresses right out of high school. He perfected his skills for 17 years, then ran his own company for 11 years before co-creating Fawcett. “The components were simple, and they kept people well — that integrity is what I wanted to bring back.”
Fawcett is a little different from your typical mattress store. Located in a recently renovated space in the heart of Rock Bay, it’s one part showroom, one part manufacturing centre and one part sleep counselling station. Clients can sample the options, consult on material preference, then watch their mattress (or one like it) being created.
Franklin and founding partner Ross Taylor were industry associates for nearly 30 years before joining forces in 2012 to create Fawcett. The company moniker comes from Taylor’s middle name — a name held over from a revolutionizing great uncle, and one Taylor was teased about as a kid. Yet, with their own revolution in sight, the two wanted to fill an industry-wide gap: mattresses made entirely of natural materials that won’t off-gas, stack up the landfill or deconstruct as quickly as their synthetic counterparts. That means using materials like cotton, wool, hemp, natural latex and rubber, which are organically and sustainably sourced.
Customized Sleep Experience
With allergies and health preferences top of mind, there are vegan options, too. And, every mattress is fully customized, right down to distinct sides — from firmness to material — for couples who have completely different sleep preferences.
“Often, when you’re a couple looking for a mattress, someone is going to have to compromise, and the beauty of a custom piece is that you can both get exactly what you want,” says Taylor. “One of the questions we often get is: ‘What’s your best mattress?’ And I tell people it’s not about the cost — our ‘best’ mattress is the one that feels best for you.”
Becoming an eco-friendly mattress company is not an easy feat, especially considering the high-volume competition and the bed-in-a-box phenomenon the industry has bolstered these past few years. However, Franklin is dedicated to sharing his passion for sustainable options and believes that, even though one-click convenience appeals to some, given the choice, most people prefer sleeping on a healthy alternative.
If the company’s growth is any indication, Taylor and Franklin are onto something.
“People are more thoughtful today about what they are purchasing, and the biggest difference we can make is showing them what’s in their mattress,” says Taylor.
“When you can touch the components and see these simple, natural products, it changes how you look at every other option. It’s an amazing experience to watch someone actually make the thing you’ll be sleeping on.”
This article is from the December/January 2020 issue of Douglas.